The Walking Dead review: A symbol, a stand-off, a search party


The Walking Dead’s ninth season pairs mystery and foreshadowing with a repeated symbol, a tense stand-off, and a search for answers.

The Walking Dead‘s “Bounty” prolonged a non-confrontational but tense standoff between Alpha and Hilltop. While Daryl inevitably gave in to the Whisperer’s convincing trade, the episode reveals a lot about the Whisperers culture and reiterated their territory.

Using a brief flashback from the Kingdom’s perspective, the episode gives us a bittersweet reminder of Jesus’ fate on the series. However, the episode quickly catches up to the present-day time in the Kingdom, creating ominous undertones that will quickly turn into overtones for the civilization in coming episodes.

While right now, we’re witnessing current conflict between Hilltop and the Whisperers, we know all to soon conflict and likely death will come to the Kingdom by way of the Whisperers.

Infusing the Kingdom’s narrative between the lengthy standoff between Alpha and Daryl, the episode delivers some suspense for both communities, even beyond the uncertainty of Alpha’s deal. Tension predominantly lies in Daryl’s moral dilemma between logic and emotion.

The ending moments of the episode illustrate he didn’t want to forfeit Lydia to her abusive mother, Alpha, but he knew this was necessary. Daryl needed to surrender his morality to protect those captured, Alden and Luke, and to keep everyone in the Hilltop community safe. Still, the Hilltop proves its humanity when Connie risks her life to save an unnamed Whisperer baby. Unlike the Whisperers, who are self-proclaimed “animals,” Hilltop’s inhabitants (as well as the other communities) have shown that despite all the hardship they have faced, they have morals and they do want to progress as a society.

Where the Whisperers have been fine to morph back to the most animalistic survival instincts, the survivors we have followed and met through nine seasons have somehow been able to maintain unconditional compassion.

“Bounty” didn’t just compare groups this week, but also foreshadowed an impending unfriendly meeting with the Whisperers (or perhaps, another group) for the Kingdom.

The Walking Dead season 9, episode 11 “Bounty.” Photo Credit: AMC.

After the Kingdom’s errand run at the theater, the focus is put on a strange yet familiar symbol on the back of a street sign.

Walking Dead fans may notice this is the letter “A” repeating itself yet again on the show —  we’ve seen it before on shipping containers, such as in Terminus, and on the side of Gabriel’s church door. Jadis also uses the terms “A” and “B” to label people to the helicopter people she’d been conversing with.

Whether this symbol represents “Alpha” in some way or signifies yet another group in the midst of the communities, we’ll have to wait and see.

During the on-screen stress of an approaching walker horde, retrieving a fragile bulb, and killing tons of zombies in a very confined place, one may have missed an important hint about the Whisperers claims to this town.

As King Ezekiel and his group enter the theater, a walker crawls through an opening where dozens of walkers are intentionally barricaded in. However, the opening seems to acts as a device that sheers and removes a walker’s face skin from their skull. Given a group of territorial walker-skinning survivors, this may not be a coincidence.

Unlike Hilltop and Michonne, and by proximity to Michonne, Alexandria, the Kingdom hasn’t encountered the Whisperers. Fans of the comic know all to well the impending doom that “the fair” brings — and every time it is mentioned on the show, we get a little more anxious.

The blissful ignorance of the Kingdom could ignite the start of the Whisperer War arc, if Daryl and Connie’s rescue mission doesn’t start it first.

In the episode that inherently showcases the Whisperers brutality with their whisper or be eaten approach to parenthood, there are moments of vulnerability and even love. Apart from the noticeable kissing scenes, “Bounty” could build some romance between Connie and Daryl. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Connie and Daryl’s upcoming rescue mission could dual as an unfolding love story between the two.

Must Read. 5 burning questions we have about Michonne’s exit. light

Overall, The Walking Dead‘s latest episode builds upon tension both in its plot and its Easter eggs. Though nobody died in this episode, it feels like some were spared this time only to see them taken in a not-so-distant episode.